The Cost of Maternity Care

By Christine Cupaiuolo — June 20, 2007

“The first study of its kind has found that families typically pay much more out of pocket for maternity care under the new high-deductible health insurance plans paired with health savings accounts that have been heavily touted by President Bush and others,” the Washington Post recently reported.

And the gap only widens for high-risk or complicated pregnancies. Plus, routine prenatal care is not usually covered as preventive care in the high-deductible plans.

“If you are contemplating having a baby or having any kind of big health event, this is not the policy for you,” said study co-author Karen Pollitz, project director of Georgetown’s Health Policy Institute. “It leaves people thinking they have protection when they don’t.”

The study, Maternity Care and Consumer-Driven Health Plans, was prepared by researchers at the Georgetown University Health Policy Institute and Kaiser Family Foundation. Both the executive summary and full report are available online in PDF format.

Also check out this graphic comparing out-of-pocket costs for traditional health care plans with high-deductible “consumer-driven” plans.

Plus: Earlier this month NPR covered a program that aims to reduce infant mortality in Afghanistan through the training of midwives. “Women learn how to assist in childbirth — and men learn to support the women in their work,” reports Soraya Sarhaddi Nelson.

For a while there was a shortage of applicants in the training program, but Dr. Hafiza Sahak came up with a solution:

Sahak says her secret was winning the cooperation of the trainees’ male relatives. For example, each girl’s father — or if she’s married, her husband and father-in-law — sign or mark a contract pledging the trainee will work after graduation. The head of the tribe is also required to sign off on the deal.

In exchange, the program director houses the girls in a walled compound off limits to men. Female relatives and in-laws visit periodically, to make sure the girls are behaving.

As an added bonus, trainees with children have full-time, on-site day care at their disposal.

As previously noted
, nearly one in seven Afghan women die in childbirth.

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